Young American tennis star Cori “Coco” Gauff praised Jesus on national television after winning the Master’s 1000 title at the Cincinnati Open Sunday.
The 19-year-old took the win with a 6-3, 6-4 victory over 27-year-old Czech player Karolina Muchova.
“This is unbelievable. Especially after what I went through in Europe earlier this summer. I’m just happy to be in this moment. I’d like to thank my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ,” she said as the crowd erupted in applause. “I spent a lot of nights alone, crying trying to figure it out. I still have a lot to figure out, but I thank him for covering me.”
Gauff played through the nearly two-hour match in 90-degree heat to beat off Muchova for her first-ever Master’s title.
The win was an emotional moment.
“This is unbelievable,” Gauff said during the postmatch trophy presentation. “I’m just happy to be here for this moment.
“I want to congratulate Karolina for an incredible run in this tournament,” she added. “Hopefully, we’ll play more often, and on a bigger stage than this.”
The Florida native is the tournament’s fourth teenage finalist and the first since Vera Zvonareva in 2004. She is also the first teenage champion since 17-year-old Linda Tuero in 1968.
“Wow. what a week it has been!” she later wrote on Instagram. “I won my biggest title to date two weeks ago and you know I had to double it.”
Her latest victory now makes her the sixth-best player in the world. An accomplishment that she said would have been impossible without the support of her parents.
“The biggest thank you to my parents,” she said. “My mom, I love you so much for being my emotional support. My dad.. he’s the reason I’m here. The reason I play tennis. He’s the reason I believe I can do this.”
Coco broke into the national spotlight after becoming the youngest qualifier in Wimbledon history at the age of 15. She shocked the tennis world when she beat Venus Williams in the first round.
Ever since, she has been slowly rising to the top. Last year, she was the 2022 French Open runner-up.
In light of all the success, Gauff says she remains grounded in her faith in Christ and prayer.
In an interview with the New York Times, she shared that she and her father pray before every match.
“Before every match since I was 8, my dad and I say a prayer together,” she shared. “We don’t really pray about victory, just that me and my opponent stay safe. After the match, I was just thanking God for this opportunity.”
And even in the downs of her career, she knows that Jesus is her source of hope.
“I try to stay positive and not let the negative things affect me too much,” she told Stylist Magazine. “My faith helps me stay focused on my goals and what I want to achieve.”